Come November 14th, the boxing world is definitely going to have something to write about. Like it or not, this is probably the most important fight of the year because the results will help define, two careers, one weight division, future super fight matchups and the pound for pound rankings. Not bad for a night's work.
Miguel Cotto has been on pretty big stages the last few years, but nothing compares with the challenge and the event that awaits in midnovember. For Manny, it's just another mega fight. In the last four years, Manny has truly made the case that he's the best fighter in the world, facing the best opposition in his division and beyond. He has KO victories over Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De la Hoya, and his road to supremacy has a tough roadblock by the name of Miguel Cotto.
For his part, Miguel Cotto has had some of the toughest fights in any career his last couple of outings. He had a memorable win over Zab Judah, he got the nod in a decision over Joshua Clottey in a fight I think Clottey let go, he outboxed Shane Mosley in an excellent match, and let us not forget the dismantling at the hands and potential plaster of Antonio Margarito. While Manny's controversies have spawned from disputed decisions over Juan Manuel Marquez, Cotto's source of commentary comes from lackluster efforts against a mismatched Michael Jennings and that close fight with Clottey. He's gotten into trouble, he's cutting, but he's shown grit when he's had to. People raise the end of the Margarito fight because Cotto did not go out on his shield, but honestly, that stoppage did more for Cotto's career than taking a further beating from someone who might have had plaster in his gloves or just a stronger will that night, unfortunately we will never know.
So those are the intangibles. In short, Manny is in a hot streak while Cotto seems to be struggling to keep warm. Add to this a new coach for Cotto after his estranged relationship with Evangelista Cotto and there's a lot in the air that makes you question his state of mind.
So what are the tangibles? Well here's a rough list:
1. Cotto is the heavier puncher. Manny is the faster puncher.
2. Cotto is a real welterweight. Manny has shown no signs of being less effective at higher weight classes.
3. Manny is faster. Cotto has better fundamental boxing skills.
4. Cotto is methodical. Manny is dynamic.
5. Both like to punch. None like to fight going backwards.
6. Both have great resolve. Both have taken punishment to win.
7. Both like to put on a show. Neither likes to win by decision.
8. Both are great finishers.
Lest you be fooled by the latest results, this is a close match and Manny will not knock Cotto out in the first few rounds as Freddy Roach has predicted. There are flaws in his defense, but if Manny isn't careful, Cotto will catch him off guard.
If you want a boxer comparison in the style of Deadliest match, lets compare various elements of the two boxers.
Pacquiao - 5'6" / 67"
Cotto - 5'7" / 67"
The one inch height advantage should be a moot point because cotto never fights tall and he's not that long in height or reach. This means that physically, they're pretty evenly matched.
Manny's last fight was at 140. Against Oscar De la Hoya he looked as big as Oscar so this means he can bulk up and not be affected. Again, even matchup in regards to weight though Cotto is obviously the naturally bigger man. But we really won't know how they size up against each other until we see them in the ring.
Cotto: predominantly Orthodox but is extremely effective from the Southpaw stance.
Manny: Rarely shows signs of considerably fading and is a physical specimen.
Cotto: Has at times shown fatigue but can fight through it effectively.
Manny: Explosive. Fast. Has added various punches to his repertoire.
Cotto: Mechanical. Systematic. Patient. Solid amateur background.
So it's two aggresors squaring off. Last I checked, the people who have done best against Manny pick their spots and pounce when they see an opportunity. Ok so how do they measure in standard punches thrown by boxers.
Manny has a lightning quick jab. It works as a range finder for the straight left or as a setup for the hook.
Cotto has an excellent jab and being left handed, he can actually stun you with the punch. Against Mosley, one of the deciding factors in the fight HAD to be the Cotto jab.
Being a southpaw, Manny's power comes mainly from his left hand and Ricky Hatton was knocked out cold with a left hook that he didn't see. It was a kind of uppercut hook and it landed right on the jaw with full force. Pretty much a guaranteed knockout.
Cotto's money punches also come from his left but normally to the body, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have one mean left hook.
Seeing as this is Cotto's bread and butter, he gets the advantage.
Manny has developed a magnificent right hook which he showcased beautifully against Ricky Hatton. Quite simply, Ricky didn't see a right hook that hit him perfectluy on the chin.
Cotto's right hooks are mainly if only exclusively to the body. It's good, but it isn't spectacular.
Manny's money punch. Like Vic Darchinyan a couple of divisions lower, Manny banks on his straight left hand. it's put away a who's who of hall of fame boxers and facing an orthodox boxer, there's no reason to belive it won't be a major factor in the fight.
Cotto has a good right hand as he showed especially against Ricardo Torres and is a weapon he will definitely need to make a case to beat Manny.
Advantage Manny by a mile.
I don't think I've seen Manny throw many uppercuts in his career which is a shame since Cotto is designed to be weak to an uppercut as seen in his fights against Margarito and Judah.
Cotto occassionally throws an uppercut and I also think he could benefit from including this punch for his fight. Especially from the right hand.
Manny mixes it up but he rarely commits to the body.
Cotto lives off body punching.
Advantage, Cotto by a mile.
Ok, so each boxer has his or her own repertoire of punches that could help them win... what are their keys to success? Following I'll offer five keys to success for each boxer.
1. Hook off the jab. Cotto was hurt in his fight against Demarcus Corley from a counter right hook and Manny can tag Cotto with this punch if Cotto drops his defense.
2. Either pick your spots or go all out. Being economical obviusly favors faster fighters (see Floyd Mayweather and Roy Jones) but Cotto does not like fighting going backwards and if Manny can push him back, he should be massively effective. For my part, I think he should be economical because he does not have the weight or height of Margarito to back Cotto at will.
3. Always circle to your left. Cotto is probably banking on banging to your body and it's there for him since you lead with your left side. Protect this or enjoy a painful knockout.
4. Double the jab before firing your straight left. The only combination I think Manny should abuse is this one. Varying between single and double jabbing before giving a straight left should throw Cotto off.
5. Look for the straight left and consider shooting the uppercut. Opposing stances are open to straight punches and Manny's left is superior to Cotto's right.
For Miguel Cotto:
1. I said use an uppercut, but I didn't say from where. If Miguel Cotto can land a right uppercut to the solar plexus of Pacquiao, he's going to be in the money and Manny will be on the canvas.
2. Pour the pressure on. You are the heavier man or at least should be, act your weight.
3. Vary the tempo of the jab. I'm not asking for Joe Calzaghe like jabbing, I'm saying tag with the jab until you find a good opening to commit to the punch.
4. Walk to your left and away from Manny's money punch. Manny has a good right hook, but it is not guaranteed to end a fight, unlike his left.
5. Buckle the body. Hooking with the left and right should be mandatory for Cotto if he wants to win and for great body punching, he has to be in close quarters, which doesn't benefit Manny's punching power. Step in and crack a rib or two.
So who do I think will win? Honestly, it's anyone's fight and it will come down to discipline, gameplan, adaptation, and resolve. Manny probably has a game plan but we haven't seen him adapt in case things aren't going to plan. Cotto is more than able to adapt and change styles and tactics. Manny has never come into a fight out of shape and if he does so this time, he will get knocked out. Simple as that. Cotto looks good and started training a full month before Pacquiao stepped into the gym. We'll see if this is a factor.
As for other factors, well let's take into account that Cotto cuts badly around the mouth and the eyes. Something tells me Manny should jab and hook to the left side of the face of Cotto and guess what, since it's a lefty vs a right, odds are heads will clash so don't be surprised if Cotto gets cut, I'm pretty much banking on it. There is tension in the Pacquiao camp and Cotto's camp looks relaxed though I've yet to hear something to suggest Joe Santiago is the exact trainer to get the best out of Cotto.
Now if you were betting on this fight, I'd pick Cotto for one simple reason... He's a 3 to 1 underdog and he DEFINITELY has the tools to win.
Regardless of who you bet on or root for, missing this fight is not an option.
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